Spices are a part of our daily lives. From the morning coffee and fried eggs covered in salty goodness to the dinnertime spaghetti Bolognese filled with pepper, bay leaves, and chilli flakes, it’s hard to say that spices aren’t a regular part of your diet. And why shouldn’t they be!
There are a few spices that hog the limelight a little more than others—salt and pepper, I’m looking at you—but why limit yourself to just these basic spices when there are so many more delicious additions out there!
Every spice has its use. Every spice has its benefit. The key is in understanding how to utilise these spices to bring out the best they have to offer! Whether you are just looking for some uses for the forgotten spices at the back of your pantry or if you are searching for new ways to elevate your home cooking, here are some everyday uses for not-so-everyday spices:
Musky, bitter, earthy, golden, peppery. Turmeric has been used around the world for thousands of years as both a common, delicious spice and for its incredible healing benefits.
As a natural superfood and now easily accessible all over the world, it’s a surprise that turmeric is so under-utilised in everyday life. If you look in the pantry or spice drawer of most households, you’ll be able to easily recognise the vibrant orange colour of turmeric, however most people have no idea what else this ingredient can be used for other than to add that distinctive orange colour to curries.
One of the best ways that this ingredient can be used in everyday life is as a medicinal product. Turmeric contains an active component called curcumin, which has amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Daily consumption can lead to increased heart health, reduced joint pain, and reduction in the onset of Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and metabolic syndromes. To access these properties, it’s recommended to consume turmeric with healthy fats and pepper to properly break down its active component.
Start off the morning with some scrambled eggs mixed through with full cream milk and a healthy seasoning of spices including Turmeric to get the most out of your morning meal. Another delicious way to get some daily Turmeric goodness is to make a Turmeric Latte. Excellent to enjoy in the morning or as an afternoon relaxer, this take on a masala chai, often labelled as the ‘Golden Latte’, contains a blend of spices that taste great and are medicinally beneficial.
The drink usually contains Turmeric, Jaggery, Ginger, Cinnamon, Black Pepper, and Cloves, with the dry spices being ground up in a mortar and pestle before adding all ingredients into a saucepan of milk and stirring slowly over a low heat. To save time and effort, however, we recommend The Original Turmeric Latte Blend by Lord and Lion. Containing the perfect blend of ingredients to kick-start your day, this blend takes the effort out of a healthy morning or afternoon.
Also known as amchoor, the tangy Amchur powder is made from dried, unripe mangos and imparts a sweet-sour flavour to soups, curries, and vegetables.
Most people might have never heard of this ingredient, as it is predominately used in India, but there are many benefits to be gained from this fruit-based spice powder. With numerous health benefits and unique flavour, this is a spice that is definitely worth adding to your pantry or spice rack at home, especially for pregnant women.
As a little-known ingredient in the West, many people might not be aware of the number of health benefits of Amchur powder. This ingredient is very useful to combat some of the maladies that pregnancy brings to women.
Mangoes are high in vitamins, high in iron, aid in cardiovascular health, and contain phenols, a powerful antioxidant component. This results in a mixture of health benefits that aid against indigestion, acidity, constipation, anaemia, developing cataracts, low energy, and have been found to increase heart health.
Regular consumption of Amchur powder is recommended for pregnant women as it is a great way to satisfy that sour craving and help in every aspect of morning sickness and beyond.
Other than additions to Indian curries and vegetable dishes, there are some other ways you can use Amchur powder.
A great use for Amchur powder in everyday cooking is as a marinade or spice rub for any barbequed meats or vegetables. It blends easily into any spice mix, and you don’t need much to get the health benefits this spice has in droves.
Another way Amchur powder can be added into everyday use is adding a tablespoon into your daily juice instead of lemon or lime. Described as tasting similar to these two sour fruits, Amchur powder not only contains the Vitamin C found in citrus, but Iron and Vitamin A, D, B6, and beta carotenes. Of course, adjust to taste based on preferences.
Visit your local Indian grocer to find Amchur powder or get your hands on a Maharaja Spice Box for high-quality Indian spices shipped directly to your home!
Whole or ground, cardamom is a fragrant spice often used in sweet dishes. The strong camphor-like flavour earns cardamom a position among other pungent spices and is therefore used in small quantities. Native to the Western Ghats of India and Sri Lanka, the pods and seeds are used in curries and sweet spice mixes. This ingredient inherently compliments vegetable and meat dishes.
Similarly to turmeric and amchur, cardamom contains strong antioxidant components that improve heart health and help lower blood pressure, provide anti-inflammatory effects, and reduce liver inflammation from a high carbs and fat diet!
Additionally, cardamom pods were used (and still used in some cultures today!) as a way to prevent cavities and improve mouth health. Reducing the bacteria in the mouth helps to eliminate bad breath and protect against plaque buildup and cavities.
To make use of this versatile and healthy spice, there are a few everyday uses that are simple and easy to mix into your daily routine.
If you’re an avid coffee or tea lover, cardamom can add a complex, earthy flavour when mixed into chai or your morning pour-over cup of coffee. To get the most out of the flavour and health benefits, we recommend toasting whole green cardamom for a few minutes on a dry medium heat pan, removing the seeds from inside, and grinding about 3-4 of those seeds with coffee beans.
Otherwise, making a morning chai on the stove is easy when you have the necessary ingredients. Everything you need to make a great cup of chai and more can be found in the Lord and Lion Maharaja Spice Box. Just pop milk, your selection of spices, and strong loose-leaf black tea on a low flame and stir continuously. Strain once the flavours are well integrated and serve! Start your day off right every morning with an incredibly healthy and delicious drink.
These small, brown, square-shaped seeds of the pea family are used dried and ground in virtually all Sri Lankan curries to thicken sauces and instill a faintly nutty flavour. Originating in the Mediterranean and Asia, Fenugreek today is mostly cultivated and consumed in India and Sri Lanka. Long used for its medicinal properties, Fenugreek is a unique herb that is commonly utilised in Ayurvedic culture, the oldest accepted traditional medicine system.
Fenugreek seeds, or methi, have a bittersweet, musky flavor that when roasted, have a nutty flavour reminiscent of burnt sugar or maple syrup. To get the most out of the flavour, we recommend using in small quantities and heat slowly in a dry pan to reduce bitterness before adding to a dish.
Fenugreek has been found to contain a wide array of health benefits. While some scientific research has been completed and shown great results, more research is needed to prove this evidence conclusive.
One of the major benefits of fenugreek is the ability to help control blood sugar levels and aid the treatment of Type 1 and 2 diabetes. The supplement helps to reduce blood sugar levels and bad cholesterol, possibly due to the high-fibre content of Fenugreek, or in it’s ability to improve insulin function.
Additionally, research suggests that Fenugreek can help with appetite control, increase testosterone and libido in men, and increase breastmilk production in women. As always, consult a doctor to be sure if use is right for you.
There are many uses for this unique spice, some more common than not. One interesting use for the spice is to add to a BBQ or smoked meat rub. Mixed with spices and the smoke of wood/coal fire, Fenugreek will improve on that smoky flavour by adding a nutty, sweet element to the meat.
Adding Fenugreek to any stew, sauces, or curries that need thickening is a great way to utilise this ingredient as well. Make sure to add at the end of the cooking process and toast slowly on a dry pan first to reduce bitterness and bring out the nutty, sweet elements that will blend better with existing flavours.
Finally, a herbal tea containing ingredients such as Fenugreek, cinnamon, fennel, chamomile, and red nettle leaf can be a calming drink for breastfeeding mothers that’s benefits will help both the mother and the child.
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